By Starrla Cray
COKATO, MN Rob Edwards first felt God’s calling to pursue ministry the summer of 1997, before his junior year of high school in Illinois.
That desire continued until after graduation, when he came to Minnesota to attend a two-year Bible college.
“Oddly enough, when I got to Bible school I thought about pursuing something else,” Edwards recalled. “I’m not really the type of guy to want to get up in front of people and talk, and it was something out of my comfort zone.”
He spent the next seven-and-a-half years at a warehouse job in Plymouth, but then felt God’s calling again. He remembers listening to a sermon at church about not being fearful, and decided not to let fear prevent him from becoming a pastor.
“It’s OK not to be qualified in your own mind,” Edwards said. “God is the one who supplies the power.”
Edwards’ first step was earning a general ministry degree from Northwestern College in St. Paul. Then, in 2011, he entered the seminary at Association Free Lutheran Bible School & Seminary in Plymouth.
He completed his internship at a church in Grafton, ND, a town of about 4,000 people 40 miles north of Grand Forks. When the internship ended in January, he was available for a full-time pastoral opportunity.
That month, Edwards contacted the call committee at Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Cokato.
“I think right away I was drawn to them,” he said.
While waiting for a call, Edwards and his family lived with his wife’s grandparents in South Dakota. During that time, they visited various churches and did some traveling.
In April, Good Shepherd invited Edwards to preach for a Sunday. The following week, the church voted to call Edwards as their senior pastor. His official start date was June 1, and his family is now renting a house in Dassel.
“I think one of the big things for me in wanting to come to Cokato is that I could tell the people really loved each other, and wanted to spend time together outside of church,” Edwards said, noting that Good Shepherd has a small gym, and members sometimes play pickle ball Sunday afternoons, and stay after for snacks and visiting
Edwards and his wife, Sarah, are having fun on the co-ed softball team, which is open to ages 13 and up.
“My oldest is counting down the days until he can play,” Edwards said.
The Edwards children include Owen, 8; Caleb, 6; Naomi, 4; and Hannah, 18 months.
Although softball is a few years away, Good Shepherd has other opportunities for children, including daycare, preschool, vacation Bible school, and Sunday school, to name a few.
“I just feel really blessed that my family can be here in Cokato and Dassel,” Edwards said. “It seems people are very friendly, and we’re excited to start this chapter in our life as a family.”
In addition to Edwards, who serves as senior pastor, Good Shepherd’s staff includes assistant pastor Jerry D. Nelson, church secretary Monica Berg, youth director David Niemela, and Sunday school superintendent Jackie Manninen.
During the summer months, Sunday services start at 9 a.m. To contact the church, call (320) 286-2861.